IMPORTANCE OF THE FIELD: Microfluidics is considered as an enabling technology for the development of unconventional and innovative methods in the drug discovery process. The concept of micrometer-sized reaction systems in the form of continuous flow reactors, microdroplets or microchambers is intriguing, and the versatility of the technology perfectly fits with the requirements of drug synthesis, drug screening and drug testing.
AREAS COVERED IN THIS REVIEW: In this review article, we introduce key microfluidic approaches to the drug discovery process, highlighting the latest and promising achievements in this field, mainly from the years 2007 - 2010.
WHAT THE READER WILL GAIN: Despite high expectations of microfluidic approaches to several stages of the drug discovery process, up to now microfluidic technology has not been able to significantly replace conventional drug discovery platforms. Our aim is to identify bottlenecks that have impeded the transfer of microfluidics into routine platforms for drug discovery and show some recent solutions to overcome these hurdles.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Although most microfluidic approaches are still applied only for proof-of-concept studies, thanks to creative microfluidic research in the past years unprecedented novel capabilities of microdevices could be demonstrated, and general applicable, robust and reliable microfluidic platforms seem to be within reach.
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